Friday, June 5, 2009
Reed, congratulations on your high school graduation today. Although I am bursting with pride at your many academic and athletic accomplishments, I am prouder still of simply who you are and the man you are becoming.
After spending many years as your coach and later sideline cheerleader, I was awed to watch you receive your school's best athlete award. But even more touching than your considerable talent is the way that you play, in sports and in life.
At your last tennis match of the season, a grueling contest against the team that eventually finished third in the state, their coach sought me out to say that in all of his years in tennis, he had never seen anyone with your combination of hustle, drive to win, and sportsmanship. He said that although his players were more technically proficient with better strokes, he would love to have seven players like you on his team. After watching you applaud literally every time an opponent hit a passing shot throughout the season, I was delighted but not surprised when you won the city-wide sportsman of the year award.
You are an amazing combination of talent and humility -- both your basketball and soccer coaches say they never before had a player they had to constantly implore to shoot. In basketball, you finished in the Top 10 in the state in field goal percentage, but you always thought pass first, shoot second. As a soccer center midfielder, you preferred to set up your teammates for goals rather than score yourself. Your special gift is that you make those around you better, on the athletic field and off.
My heart aches that you will soon leave for college, and I will no longer feel the daily joy of living in the same house with you (although I will save a small fortune in honey nut cheerios, microwave popcorn, and Gatorade). But the void will be filled with a different kind of joy, as I watch you develop into a remarkable young man. I am delighted that you will be "only" 9 hours away -- you can expect to see me planted on the soccer sidelines next fall as often as I can. Remember always that your mother and I love you beyond all measure. And that God loves you infinitely more.